Boxwoods can be grown as stand-alone spherical or cubic bushes, and they will look just splendid in their perfect shape and gorgeously dense foliage. But they can also be grown in combination with other garden plants to create excellent contrasts.
Taller Boxwood varieties are often used as a background for shorter, more colorful bushes or other ornamental plants.
Low-growing Box varieties can create symmetrical borders around flower plantations, grass, and even vegetable patches.
Identifying the exact Boxwood cultivar you’re growing will help you decide on the companion plants. You can use Box shrubs as a background for colorful bloomers such as Daylilies, Roses, and Coneflower. Box foliage does not stand out, so add foliar textural contrast with thyme, sage, or rosemary.
Identifying What’s Missing in Your Garden
Well-pruned and healthy Boxwood shrubs look grand in all their stateliness. But it’s true that Boxwood shrubs alone lack the color and the flair most of us would like in our gardens.
Expert garden designers identify five primary factors of a garden’s aesthetic appeal. Mass, form, line, colors, and texture.
When you’re growing Boxwoods, you’re already doing great in three of the five departments. The shrubs add the perfect mass or volume and line to your space.
When it comes to form, it’s what Boxwoods are made for. The flawlessly shaped Box spheres and hedges are the best elements you can add to improve the form of a patch.
But what we’re missing with Boxwoods is a lot of colors and textural contrast. Boxwood foliage can look like a plain, green-dark green surface when pruned regularly.
What to Plant with Boxwoods to Add Color?
Boxwood shrubs are the perfect background plants for flower plantations. The inconspicuous foliage looks like a plain sheet of green, an ideal place to add flowers.
Use your garden’s very own green screen, AKA Boxwood hedges, to not only provide a stable background but also much-needed protection from the elements for blooming plants.
Boxwoods are known to stay green through the winter. Make it look like it’s Summer in your garden even in mid-Winter by growing Hellebore flowers around your Box hedges.
These winter-blooming perennials will receive the much-needed cold protection from Boxwoods overhead. The shrubbery may also provide protection from the Summer sun and keep them growing all year round.
Other than that, you can add any blooming species you desire to go with Boxwoods. Their specialty is that the evergreen shrubs will go with any species.
You can plant Daylilies with a Boxwood background to offer an excellent place for the bright orange blooms to shine.
If you want to add the perfect English touch to your green space, add Roses with Boxes. The fragrant bloomers are yet another perfect companion for Boxwoods.
Caring for Roses is not much different than caring for Boxwoods, making things easier for you.
Coneflower species are among the most colorful blooming perennials and are an excellent choice for taller Box hedges.
Coneflowers, with a color palette ranging from yellow to deep pink, grow 2-4 feet high, making them suitable for growing with taller bushes.
What to Plant with Boxwoods to Add Texture?
So much for color. Let’s come to the other primary factor of garden design, texture.
Choosing companion plants that will add textural contrast to your Boxwood hedges enhances the character of your garden.
Plants with differently shaped leaves, variegated or unique colors will add the difference in texture your garden needs. Making your garden a more interesting place to stroll about.
For adding texture, avoid plants that have the foliage color or pattern similar to Boxes. This will make them all look like one plant from afar.
Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Germander, Hosta, and similar plants offer excellent textural contrast to Boxwoods.
Choosing low-growing shrubs with lighter foliage colors is also a good option. It is a plus if those shrubs also grow colorful blooms and berries, all the more garden fun.
Boxwoods look excellent when planted with Gardenias. The glossy foliage and white blooms of a Gardenia offer superb contrast of color and texture with Box plantations.
Gardenias do well if protected from the afternoon sun. Tall Box hedges can provide this much-needed protection if arranged correctly.
Natural or Formal
It is up to you to choose a more natural and easier look for your lawn or a more formal and statelier one. Boxwoods can go with both.
It’s easy to reckon that round-shaped Boxwoods will go in natural gardens and rectangular or square hedges look formal.
In natural gardens, Boxwood shrubs can often go unpruned. While they may need to be cut back to maintain the size, there is no need for a strict round or square shape.
Hydrangeas, Ninebarks, and Lilacs are excellent companions for a natural, easy-going look.
Round or irregular-shaped Box hedges can be grown next to deciduous trees and over walls to add volume and color.
Formal gardens often feature plain patches of grass with low Boxwood edging. The grass can be replaced with low-growing flowers if you like.
Boxwoods can also be used to make a square border around coniferous trees. The angular touch of the Box bushes complements the rugged look of these trees excellently.
Boxwoods are versatile shrubs and will go with pretty much anything you plant with them. The 7-8 companion plants mentioned above are only a meager number compared to the variety of plants grown with these shrubs.
You should always try new things with your garden. Try a unique combination, something you haven’t seen before. Don’t be afraid. You can always replace companion plants in the next growing season.
Frequently Asked Questions About What to Plant with Boxwoods
Can I grow a combined hedge with Boxwood and another shrub?
Although contrary to convention, you can very much grow Boxwood with other shrub species. Trying new things is always recommended. You should consider shrubs that have similar care requirements as Boxwoods for your ease.
Can Boxwoods be planted next to ponds?
It is safe to plant Boxes next to ponds if they are planted somewhere higher than the water level. Boxes will die of root rot if planted somewhere constantly waterlogged.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.